Reverend Billy C. Wirtz with special guest Middleground
May 23 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm$15
Reverend Billy C. Wirtz is a comic genius, gifted pianist and American musicologist who defies easy classification. “I like to think of myself as the Victor Borge of the Blues,” states the Reverend, but Billy goes way beyond Borge both in scope of subject matter (from politics to social commentary) and, of course, in taste. In fact, no theme is too extreme, taboo, or undignified for the Reverend, so long as it garners a good laugh.
Likely the only person on earth to be mentored by Chicago blues pianist Sunnyland Slim and also to work with Root Boy Slim, Wirtz has also worked with the famed DC Blues band the Nighthawks, starting back when Jimmy Thackery was a member.
Wirtz has released acclaimed albums such as Backslider’s Tractor Pull, Turn for the Wirtz: Confessions of a Hillbilly Love-God, Pianist Envy, Songs of Faith and Inflammation, Unchained Maladies, and a compilation, The Best of the Wirtz: 15 Years on the Road with a 77″ Pianist. The titles give you an idea what you are in for as far as fun, but Wirtz is also passionate about the history of the Blues and R&B, and his concerts also include that aspect, as well as his radio shows on KPIG and WMNF.
He has also written for such notable publications as Blueswax, Musician, Keyboard, and All Music Guide. However, his stock in trade is provoking laughter, and ever since his emergence during the early 1980s, his sanctified routines have elicited belly laughs from club crowds worldwide.
The duo Middleground consists of Barbara and Mark Armbrecht and is the product of over 40 years of collaboration between these two professional musicians. The music has evolved over the years to now include an eclectic mix of folk, pop, blues, ragtime and classic favorites, all of which have been flavored by Barbara’s finger picking style, use of open tunings and occasional use of slide and supported by Mark’s solid and expressive bass technique. Prior to moving to Florida and forming Middleground, both Barbara and Mark appeared on Jamboree USA, a weekly live radio broadcast of country music featuring the top country artists of the day and second only to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in status. They also appeared several times on Jamboree in The Hills, the largest country music festival in the country and played to an audience in excess of 100,000 people. Middleground was an International Blues Challenge participant in 2013. Barbara also competed at the International Blues Challenge in 2015 as a solo performer.
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